Should churches be tax exempt?

Should Churches Be Tax Exempt?

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:24 But, should churches be tax exempt?

The debate about whether churches should be tax-exempt is still a controversial issue. But, before we go any further it is important that all of us understand the true meaning of a godly church: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” Ephesians 1:22-23

In my opinion, the controversy over whether churches should be tax exempt is a result of Christian’s refusal to look at the issue honestly. Should churches be tax exempt? It has become a million-dollar question. The reason is, that people who pay taxes on both income and property feel some kind of way. Some may wonder why all the hoopla, but others see the question as one worthy of discussion. After all, most Americans who receive a salary, gifts of high value, or the like must pay Uncle Sam. Until the last decade or so bringing up the subject of whether churches should pay taxes was taboo but not today. People have become emboldened. There is no topic off limits. If it matters to even one person that one person feels entitled to make it an issue.

Here’s the thing, it is impossible to examine this issue without shedding light on some sins Christians would rather not illumine. That perspective alone suggests that somebody somewhere knows the church is in peril because many religious leaders traded in God’s church in exchange for the world.

” Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2: 15-17

It is no longer acceptable for the masses to apply a “rose-colored glasses” approach or intentional blindness to reality. Ok, let’s just tell it like it is. Christians in particular, have a difficult time calling a spade a spade when it involves the church. But, does God have that problem? No! 

So why is this even an issue? You know I’m not one to sugarcoat, so let’s get right to it. Whether or not Churches should be tax-exempt is a real & legitimate issue, “because too many are operating as a business, even bragging about how that operation runs like a business.” Let me explain. It seems that many a churches go silent when an explanation for where millions in tithes and offerings is warranted.

If evidence of how church tithes and offerings are spent is not transparent to the people then how do they know where the money went? The Bible is clear about tithing so why aren’t church leaders?

“Is tithing mentioned in the Old Testament or is it an Old Testament practice of the law? What is the purpose of tithing? There are many questions around tithing and giving money to the church and God’s Word has plenty to say about it! Money is mentioned over 800 times in the Bible!”  God knew money would be something we would hold tightly to and place a lot of importance on. www.biblestudytools.com

The number of times a thing is mentioned in the Bible is of great significance because the more the matter is talked about the more God placed emphasis on it. Of course, He knows man would be tempted to do the wrong thing with tithes because he is a man. He is proud, sometimes riddled with greed, envious, and always longing to have more than he has. Now one would think this mentality or spirit would not exist in the church but unfortunately, it does and always has.

Matthew 23:23 is an eye opener because here through the Word of God Scripture unveils a hidden gem. The gem is man’s hypocrisy. All believers know the magic number for tithing is 10% but even in Matthew 23:23, God took issue with the Pharisee’s misapplication of the LAW. Basically, the Pharisees were just going through the motions, lacking a genuine desire to show mercy, exhibit faithfulness, and apply the law in a just way. When the Scripture speaks about neglecting mercy it is referring to mercy for others. Faithfulness requires consistency, coupled with an intentional act of sacrifice.

The tither is not the only party charged to provide for God’s people through tithing, and so does the recipient of those tithes. One might argue, that the tither should not question how the gift is used but only be concerned with making sure it is given. This view is somewhat of a coward’s way of not confronting church leaders. Yet the Bible tells us there will be false prophets. Knowing there are false prophets, wolves in sheep’s clothing and corrupt religious leaders, it seems odd a child of God could go silent about wrong-doings in their place of worship. The disturbing thing is they don’t go completely silent, they usually talk among each other about church wrongdoings opting to never ever voice concern in the presence of their religious leader or his or her disciples.

In the end, every knee will bow and you won’t be able to blame the preacher for ignoring behavior and actions displeasing to the Lord. In other words, adults know right from wrong! To ignore wrong-doing is to accept wrong-doing. To accept wrong-doing is to allow wrong-doing. We have become immune to Christians behaving ungodly, so much so that we would rather fit in than call them out!

Make no mistake, every tithing church member should see evidence of tithes helping others in various ways. Leading souls to Christ is number one, and feeding the hungry is number two. And we should not confuse selling church dinners with feeding the hungry. To lead one must set an example worthy of following. I remember when churches had church buses. The church bus picked up members in the community who wanted to go to church but had no transportation. Many children looked forward to Sunday, so they could ride those buses to go to Sunday school. Back then the pastor understood the importance of making a way for those who had no way to get to God’s house.

These days you rarely see a “church bus,” even though churches collect 10 times or more tithes and offerings than they did 20- 30 years ago.

What happened? How could there be so much more money yet so few efforts and services designated to saving souls? They say numbers don’t lie, but we know people do, even Christians. The money is there in many cases but not the faith, mercy, and compassion for others.

The church owes its members transparency because without member there would be no church.

Members deserve to know that their tithes are being used in the way God intended!

Simply put, the bulk of tithes and offerings should be used to help church members, feeding them and other hungry children of God, social service programs, and providing transportation to and from the church if funds permit. In my opinion, there is little that is more disturbing related to the church, than seeing elderly people using public transportation to get to a mega-church on Sunday. I don’t have to paint a picture of how megachurches become mega-churches. In many cases, they become mega off the backs of those who have very little, or next to nothing.

Should churches be tax exempt if the leader owns an airplane, several luxury cars, a mansion, and lots of money in the bank? Selah, pause and think calmly on that!

That said, today is not the time I choose to visit the subject of whether or not being rich is a sin. This post is not about that!

In my opinion, one of the most disheartening affairs in the modern world today is the state of our youth and young adults. It’s not enough that the world failed them, the church has failed them too! Where can wayward youth turn when the world deals them a bad hand? Who do they turn to if those who gave birth to them or fertilized the egg that created them turned their backs on them?

Yeah, I know, to some this conversation sounds unamerican, nonsensical, or like an elaborate false fabrication of reality. If you are one of those people who cannot relate to any of this conversation, just keep living. Just keep living!

How much of the church’s proceeds should be designated for saving our young people considering the dire state of their existence and the indubitable threat of never reaching adulthood?

If your answer to the question above question was no, or kinda then perhaps you should start looking into how your pastor uses your tithes and offerings.

In absence of critical explanative supporting documentation, it seems there’s nothing “non-for-profit” about churches that have no evidence of reaching, rescuing, repairing, and teaching the lost.

And, for those churches that have paid staff, what do they do? How often do you see them doing it and is it meaningful?

Today, most medium-large size charges have people on a payroll. Not only that, we’ve got church leaders endorsing political candidates, lying about the extent of political candidates’ religious involvement, and even showing favoritism for one candidate over another behind closed doors, as in, during service.  

Now I’m not saying that this political opinion thing is necessarily bad because it’s going to happen regardless. My concern is the hypocrisy that makes it possible for churches to live high on the hog, off of poor people’s pennies!

In other words, why should I have to pay taxes on my 3 or 4-figure salary, while religious leaders and people on their payrolls don’t pay taxes? Does the work they do justify monetary compensation?

Sadly, the church has strayed from its intended purpose of leading souls to Christ by example, actively interacting with the community it proclaims to serve, or going above and beyond to identify, acknowledge and meet the needs of the people.

By all Biblical accounts, the church is charged to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and provide a safe, spiritual place of worship while presenting itself as a cornerstone of the community.  The only way to lead souls to Christ is to be more like Christ, spreading love and exemplifying compassion toward those less fortunate. In absence of these attributes and actions, there is no church, at least not one God ordained.

Word to the wise “You are not a Christian, if you only help people who come to church, or if you only help people you like who come to church!” 

Why should any church that does not operate in the way God intended be tax-exempt?  

Now, I’ve said it once and I’m saying it again, in my opinion, if a church is not operating the way God intended that church should be paying taxes.

Examples of what God’s church looks like:

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20

For where two or three are gathered together
This seems to be said in opposition to a Jewish notion, that a number less than ten, is not a congregation F1; whereas, though the number is ever so few that are met together to pray to God; or to hear his word, attend on his ordinances, or do the business of his house, or transact any affair that is for the glory of God, and the good of souls, in my name, says Christ; that is, by his authority, depending on his assistance, calling upon his name, and making use of it, and seeking the glory of it:

there am I in the midst of them;” Matthew 18:20

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18: 21-22
Many people today understand the church as a building. This is not a biblical understanding of the church. The word “church” is a translation of the Greek word ekklesia, which is defined as “an assembly” or “called-out ones.” The root meaning of church is not that of a building, but of people. It is ironic that when you ask people what church they attend, they usually identify a building. Romans 16:5 says, “Greet the church that is in their house.” Paul refers to the church in their house—not a church building, but a body of believers. www.gotquestions.org

 Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my well-beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.” Romans 16:5 — King James Version (KJV 1900)

 

For instance, “no evidence of feeding the hungry, helping the homeless find shelter, providing guidance and support to single moms, son’s without father or supporting spiritually broken people” taxes are in order. In these cases, everything about outfits like these suggests they’re operating for profit! 

I wish I could still say, with a clear conscience, that all churches should be tax-exempt, but I can’t. The moment church leaders and followers started worshiping money, man, and power, is the moment they should be required to pay taxes.  

This subject, the one on churches operating like revenue-earning businesses, but refusing to be treated like a revenue-earning business, is still a thorn in my side. It’s not right, it’s not fair and it’s certainly not what Jesus would do!  

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